Now our mother Mary and our stepmother Beatrice had several similarities that were not to be admired. They each loved to talk non-stop, said they didn’t play games when actually they were grand masters, did not enjoy the role of motherhood and believed they were very entertaining.
Beatrice usually did not allow anyone to monopolize the conversation unless it was her. She would say she did not enjoy quiet while on the other hand complaining about loud music. If she hurt your feelings, it was only because she was speaking the truth. Mother would say if your feelings were hurt “to get over it!”
Somewhere along the line when they were passing out empathy, these two missed the boat. They both found “five minute friends” more enjoyable than their own family members. They loved to discuss other people’s frailties and problems, in particular those of their children and, in Beatrice’s case, stepchildren. They fancied themselves mentally healthy which was completely false.
Flying into rages was an art they both had mastered. In fact they were grand champions!
They both thought their children didn’t quite measure up (an interesting phenomenon I call Mary Poppins Syndrome!) but never thought they themselves were imperfect. Mary and Beatrice also suffered from impaired perceptions. It was difficult for them to see life through a clear lens.
A few years ago I heard of an interesting study conducted by a university’s psychology department. The study seemed particularly relevant to both of the maternal units in our lives. It found that people who had absolutely no sense of humor considered themselves to be very humorous and very good tellers of jokes. It also found that people who had no ability to empathize with the plight of others believed that they were, in fact, extremely empathetic.
Beatrice and Mary depended on men to make their lives better and they thought working outside the home was beneath them. Not exactly career women!
They also would let you know they were independent women when they were far from it. Both were voracious readers but demanded you read what they enjoyed and thought ill of you if you didn’t. Do the words “my way or the highway” come to mind? The same could be said about television programs. Not like Seinfeld? How dare you! There must be something wrong with you!
Learning how to maneuver around these feisty old broads was no easy task. Sometimes the best plan was to sit quietly and observe. However, that could also backfire as they always suspected we were up to something. The twists and turns never seemed to end.